Medicine Donation Addresses Stigma of Witchcraft

Bo Children’s’ Hospital, Sierra Leone

Morningside Pharmaceuticals has helped address the stigma of witchcraft in Africa by donating medicines connected with the treatment of epilepsy.

Our teams worked diligently to donate 1,000 packs of the drug to Syston Aid charity Inter Care, which has since distributed them to communities in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana.

Due to a lack of healthcare provision, many African communities still associate epilepsy with witches and wizards, and often resort to traditional herbal treatments and even public ceremonies in-order-to ward off perceived evil spirits and to heal the patient.

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Chairman of Morningside, said: “We have had the privilege of working with African communities for the past 30 years and have seen first-hand the excellent medical talent, skills and expertise taking place throughout the continent.

“Access to quality medicines and healthcare remains a problem, which has led many rural communities to seek traditional remedies. I hope our donation helps support Inter Care and the work of other Aid organisations in addressing the lack of knowledge around conditions such as epilepsy, where a wide range of treatment is available.”

As part of Inter Care’s community epilepsy work, they supported a five-year-old girl called Ella, from the city of Bo in Sierra Leone, who had been suffering seizures from birth.

Her community sought out traditional remedies, which did nothing to prevent her often six seizures per day. This led her family to eventually seek hospital treatment where she responded well to the epilepsy medicine, and her parents were provided with comprehensive information and support to help manage her condition.

Albert Sesay from Bo Children’s’ Hospital, said: “Like in many epilepsy cases in the communities we support; when a patient has an epileptic seizure the elders of the communities, family members and others always claim they are attacked by witches and wizards, and traditional treatments are administered to them.

“In most cases these patients are given garlics, smoked with traditional herbal medicines leaves and even take them to societal ceremonies. Before receiving medical treatment. Ella and other children and adults in her position go through so much pain and stress.”

Diane Hardy from Inter Care stated that: “We would very much like to thank Morningside Pharmaceuticals for their kind donation, which is helping to treat other people facing the same social barriers to seeking proper medical support, which patients such as Ella and her family have encountered.”

According to Bo Children’s Hospital, 20,000 people fall sick with epilepsy each year, including over 2,500 children, which leads to four epilepsy-related deaths each day.

During a recent visit to see Ella following her treatment, her parents were asked for their feedback on the support they have received from Bo Children’s Hospital and the Inter Care UK team. Ella’s mother, Nina said: “Words cannot express how grateful I am, any time I look at my daughter my heart gladdens. I am so thankful for your relentless efforts. I don’t know if my daughter would have been alive if it were not for your support.”

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